The first lines of Matt Hancock’s speech to Broadband World Forum last week weren’t shy in setting out the general theme. Hancock’s previous speeches had shown that more than most, he ‘gets’ the role that technology can, does and may play in all of our lives. So did his predecessor Ed Vaisey. But what marked this speech out was an unapologetic focus on fibre; as he described it, the future.
Increasing transparency of businesses broadband speeds – Ofcom’s voluntary Code of Practice for ISPs comes into forcesamiragazzane
Under the new voluntary Ofcom Code, Internet Service Providers commit to give businesses “clearer, more accurate and transparent information on broadband speeds before they sign up to a contract???. If the promised upload and download speeds fall below the guaranteed levels, businesses will be able to leave their contract with no penalties. The Code was launched earlier this year but comes into force today.
Comparison website finds that 77% of UK businesses are satisfied with broadband but downtime remains a problemsamiragazzane
The Broadband Genie annual business broadband report published today found that 1.5 million businesses in the UK (23% of all businesses) encounter broadband issues at least once a week, costing them on average £904 for every hour broadband is down. The broadband comparison website surveyed 500 firms from across the UK and also found that nearly half of businesses have no dedicated staff responsible for resolving issues with a broadband connection despite expenses costing between £1000 and £5000 per hour for 16% of businesses.
The European Commission published yesterday its proposals to achieve its vision for a European Gigabit society with ambitious targets from 5G coverage to access for all European households (rural and urban) to internet speeds of 100Mbit/s by 2025. Legislative and policy proposals include a review of the EU regulatory framework for telecoms, an Action Plan on 5G connectivity and new financial instruments as well as additional public funding for a WiFi voucher scheme that will benefit 6000 to 8000 local communities in the EU by 2020.
A recent study (h/t Computer Weekly) on the economic impact of London’s superfast broadband connection voucher scheme shows that it could bring a £3bn boost to London SMEs within two years. Carried out by Adriot Economics, and supported by Point Topic, The Fifth Sector and Manchester University, the evidence comes from around 500 of the 12,000 London businesses who benefited from the scheme.
The SME Connection scheme was launched in late 2013 as part of the Super Connected Cities scheme. Despite some initial teething problems it quickly picked up speed, benefiting from an advertising push and a streamlined application process that included the ability to aggregate vouchers. When it closed in October 2015 55,000 vouchers – a one-off grant of up to £3000 – had been issued to SMEs in over 50 cities with over 700 suppliers taking part.
This report is the first to attempt to undertake an economic analysis of the scheme – something which the BSG called for in our Small Business Connectivity Requirements Report last year. London’s scheme allocated £18m over the two years with an average cost of £1,500. This resulted in an average speed increase from 15.9 Mbit/s to 86.6 Mbit/s. The range of services delivered can be seen in the graph:
In the short to medium term this resulted in increased efficiency and sales. It also resulted in productivity gains from staff time savings and increased ability for home and mobile workers. The report also identified longer term gains in terms of using this time to increase skills – and having better access to online courses.
On a conservative basis this should provide a boost of £3bn in the first two years and an additional £4bn over five years if the latent productivity gains are realised. In terms of Gross Value Added, the economic benefit is estimated to be £430m for Greater London and an additional 8,118 jobs. That’s an extremely impressive £23 GVA per £1 invested and a cost per job of £2,200.
The report doesn’t cover additional economic benefits such as those delivered to the suppliers, nor the extent to which it stimulated the market to deliver superfast broadband services (in fairness a non-trivial task).
Whilst the report was just focused on London and, by the author’s admission, survey results are still coming in – it does seem to beg the question of should Government have stopped the scheme when it did?
In fairness, Ed Vaizey made clear to the CMS Select Committee’s Inquiry into World-Class Connectivity he wanted the scheme to carry on – he was just unable to get the Treasury to agree. That’s not to say the scheme was perfect – whilst it was born out of the Super Connected Cities Programme, SMEs in rural areas would arguably benefit even more from such a scheme. But it was still a scheme that seems to be delivering economic benefits, popular amongst SMEs and broadly welcomed by the telecoms industry. With loud noises of industrial strategy and regions pushing the message that they are open for business, don’t be surprised if we see this revived in some form…
The Government have today introduced the Digital Economy Bill to Parliament as part of its ambition for the UK to be the most digital nation in the world. The Digital Economy Bill (HC Bill 45) sets out the framework for the introduction of a Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO), includes new powers for Ofcom, seeks to reform the Electronic Communications Code and also sets out new consumer rights.
Ofcom has today published its consultation on automatic compensation for consumers and smaller businesses who experience disruption to daily activities caused by problems with their communications services. Before publishing a detailed consultation on the system, Ofcom is gathering initial views on the scope, form, process, level of compensation and also possible risks of introducing new measures. (more…)
BT’s has today announced that its Openreach and EE businesses will spend around six billion pounds between them over the next three years, in the first phase of a plan to extend superfast broadband and 4G coverage beyond 95% of the UK by 2020.
The announcement focuses on services, coverage and capacity with the latter receiving the most press coverage. As well as confirming their ambition of supplying 12 million premises with ultrafast broadband, BT announced that at least two million of those to be connected with Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology. (more…)
BT-Openreach Fibre Network passes 25 Million UK Premises as UK Superfast Broadband Coverage hits 90%Charles Wood
In what Openreach describes as “one of the fastest deployments of fibre broadband in the world???, it announced yesterday that its fibre network has passed the 25 million premises milestone, helping to take the UK’s superfast broadband (24Mbit/s) coverage past 90% of premises.
On Monday 14 March, the Broadband Stakeholder Group hosted an event to discuss the Government’s intention to make sure that “every home and business can have access to fast broadband by the end of this Parliament???. The event explored how any target for universal coverage should be framed, the actions needed to meet that target and what lessons can be learned from other countries.
Earlier this month, a survey by the Manufacturer’s Association (EEF) found that internet connectivity was increasingly central to manufacturer’s operations and that Britain’s success in leading the fourth industrial revolution relied on improvements to affordability and internet infrastructure. In a keynote speech at the EEF annual conference today, Business Secretary Sajid Javid announced the review of business broadband “to reduce the barriers to affordable, high-quality fibre-broadband???.
Increasing transparency of businesses broadband speeds – Ofcom’s new voluntary Code of Practice for ISPssamiragazzane
Under a new voluntary Ofcom Code, Internet Service Providers commit to give businesses “clearer, more accurate and transparent information on broadband speeds before they sign up to a contract???. If the promised upload and download speeds fall below the guaranteed levels, businesses will be able to leave their contract with no penalties.
Getting as many people online and enjoying the benefits of that the internet can bring is an incredibly complex task involving digital skills, attitude and awareness among others. But in many ways the first step is ensuring that the underlying connectivity is available to them. In this light the Government’s desire to “make sure that every home and business can have access to fast broadband by the end of this Parliament??? is to be welcomed.